Tomorrow it is GCSE results day across the UK and thousands of teenagers will be collecting their results.
GCSEs are placed as being of huge importance in secondary schools, with students being pushed to achieve grades 4 (equivalent of the past C grade) and above, with as many as twenty-five exams per student, taking place in the space of a few weeks. In the UK only 65% of students achieved this in GCSE Maths and English in 2018.
I remember personally feeling the pressure to succeed was immense, as teachers informed me that realistically I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals unless I gained top grades.
I opened my GCSE results envelope in August 2014 and immediately felt as though the world had ended. My plan was always to go to a top university to study Zoology or Veterinary Sciences and after opening my results I felt that dream wasn’t attainable.
However, as an individual who has been through GCSEs, A-levels, and more recently a degree in Biology, I now understand that the importance of GCSE results is less about your academic career and more about how it affects your confidence. My results were far from ‘terrible’, but I felt my school were disappointed in my grades.
After initially having my confidence knocked, I decided to go ahead with my aims.
I made sure to gain lots of work experience during school holidays to make my application to university stand out and continued doing placements whilst at university, which has helped me gain employment.
Work experience is something that the OxLEP Skills Team provide a lot of support with; handling 6,500 work experience placements each year and facilitating businesses in offering meaningful opportunities within the workplace.
Advice I would give to those getting their results? Whether you now want to complete your A-levels, undertake an apprenticeship or take another less conventional route, remember that your GCSE results will not determine your future successes.
Although it wasn’t an easy journey between my GCSE results day and my graduation from the University of Bristol, with many disappointing exam results and retakes along the way, I can honestly say that my GCSE results have not reduced the opportunities available to me.
If anything, the disappointment I had in my grades benefitted me by giving me the motivation to keep working hard and encouraging me to develop my skills outside of academic learning.
Image of Siwan receiving her A-Level results courtesy of Oxford Mail, August 2016